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292                              THE GAY GENIUS

carried with it an automatic justification in Chinese eyes. The Emperor
was ready to embark upon a policy of return to the economic policies of
Shentsung. It was clear that under such a slogan all the officials during
the Empress Dowager's regency could be charged with the mortal crime
of destroying the works of his father. It meant disloyalty to the dead
emperor. In the previous accusations of Su Tungpo, this charge had
been brought up repeatedly. It did not matter that Shentsung's own
mother had confirmed the fact—in the young Emperor's presence and
in the presence of the high officials—that in the last years of his reign
Shentsung had begun to regret his mistakes. It did not matter that the
officials could remind the young Emperor of the Empress Dowager's
words addressed directly to him. It was a useful label by which all the
parties opposed to the new regime could be exiled and dismissed.

It was the beginning of summer, 1094. Upon the recommendation
of" "Three-faced Yang," Chang Chun had become the premier. In
order to convince the young Emperor that all the Yuanyu officials were
his enemies, it was not enough for Chang Chun to charge them with
upsetting the policies of his father. This group of men were superb
politicians. They had to make the young Emperor hate the Yuanyu
people personally. Clearly, the most personal thing that could hurt the
Emperor was the 'idea that someone had been plotting with his grand-
mother against his throne. Out of unverifiable reports of dead men's
conversations and confessions of palace officials extracted under torture,
the plotters were able to create rumours of a conspiracy which never

When the Empress Dowager was acting as regent, Chang Chun
and the Tsais had been thrown put of power. Embittered, Tsai Chueh'
had been circulating the rumour "that the Empress Dowager had
plotted to put her own son on the throne; Tsai was exposed, degraded
and died. Now the Empress Dowager was dead, and the rumour was
revived and raised into an important political issue.

The charge was now that Szema Kuang and Wang Kuei had been
accomplices in this plot. No evidence could be produced except two
alleged conversations. The dead men could neither confirm nor deny
it. Szema Kuang was said to have discussed the idea with Fan Tsuyu,
who was in exile anyway and who was expected to deny it if he was
ever cross-examined. The impression was created that the Empress
Dowager had always thought of ousting her own grandson. One of
her two personal secretaries, Chen Yen, had been already exiled to the
south. He was tried in his absence and condemned to death. The
other secretary was brought to the capital. Chang Chun entered into a
deal with him. After subjecting him to torture, Chang asked him to
make a choice between death and turning witness for the prosecution
by making statements as the Empress Dowager's private secretary that